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I’m thinking, “Is it me or is the world getting funnier?” And I don’t mean funny ha-ha, but funny in the sense that the world is getting weirder by the day.

To begin with, super cool “American Idol” contestant Adam Lambert, whose voice all four judges said could make the telephone book sound good, lost out to bland vanilla Kris Allen — even after the acid-tongued Simon Cowell practically anointed Lambert the clear winner and the most exciting Idol contestant they’ve come across in the show’s history.

But then Kris Allen is a wholesome young Christian hailing from Arkansas, a state that obviously took a lot more interest in rooting for one of its own and thus contributed 38 million out of the 100 million votes that came in. Lambert’s fellow Californians were probably too busy having a life to watch the show, let alone call in to cast their votes.

Oh, and there’s another thing: Apart from having an amazing vocal range, glamorous fashion style and rock star confidence, Lambert wears eyeliner and is supposedly gay. I don’t like to believe that the last factor influenced the way of the vote, but then again it is America and the Idol cannot have clay feet (and black nail polish).

The other weird thing that caught my attention this week was the pairing of Megawati and Prabowo as presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the upcoming election. It is not so much that one was a former victim of political oppression and the other an active instrument of that oppression that made the two an unlikely pair — after all, in politics nothing is impossible — rather, it is the painful political acrobatics that led to the unholy matrimony.

Up until the last minute before the deadline for announcing presidential candidates, the former president and the retired general were still haggling over who should be the president and who would be the vice.

I suppose in terms of career advancement there are very limited options for failed ex-presidents and ex-generals to pursue other than to have a shot at becoming rulers of the country. It would be quite interesting to see what happens should they win the election, if only to watch them bicker over who is the boss.

Logic, the numbers and the voters’ sanity make a Mega-Pro victory unlikely, but then again if star-quality Lambert could lose the American Idol title to the plain underdog, there’s no reason why this mercurial couple with post-power syndrome shouldn’t win over the stable but boring incumbent.

Another funny thing in the headlines that caught my eye is the scandal that is dragging the British Parliament through mud and bringing the government to its knees. In Indonesia, we are used to all sorts of scandals dogging our honorable lawmakers, especially of the corruption and abuse-of-power variety. After all, we don’t place many expectations on our representatives in terms of ethics, with many obtaining their positions for reasons other than the greater good.

However, abuse of power in a country that gave birth to the parliament — now, that is precious indeed. At a time when the British are being forced to skimp and save, a report on how Parliamentary members misused their expense allowances was leaked to the media and immediately prompted a public outcry and a call for re-election.

The list of expenses British Parliamentarians claimed on taxpayer money include 2,000 British pounds ($3,100) for a 37-inch high-def plasma TV; 1,625 for a garden table, chairs and parasol; 7,000 for a new kitchen; 519 for a week at the Bide-A-Wee holiday cottage; 100 to remove moles from a garden; 725 for a cherrywood mirror; 600 for the removal of wisteria; 2,200 for the cleaning of a moat; 2,000 to repair a pipe under a tennis court; 5,700 for a portico and a bunch of other expenses that are petty in monetary value but enormous in moral cost.

And here I was thinking that Indonesian lawmakers should be taken to task for buying themselves laptops they don’t know how to use and for combining foreign working visits with shopping trips and sightseeing. They are greenhorns compared to their British counterparts.

I mean, getting the hard-pressed taxpayers — and the Brits have to pay a lot in taxes — to pay for your moat to be cleaned or to buy your pornos? Never mind that people who can afford to live in castles should be able to afford to clean their own moats or that distinguished gentlemen shouldn’t be watching dirty videos; what is most disturbing in all of this is the increasingly warped sense of normalcy that we sane and ordinary people have to put up with in our lives.

It is indeed a funny world.

(Desi Anwar.  First published in The Jakarta Globe)

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